A softbox light is used by many professional photographers, and it can be very expensive. These tips allow you to create the look without killing your budget.
“If you’re like me then you enjoy soft light on the couples you are photographing. However, if you are also like me then you are not keen on carrying a softbox with you for an engagement session.
Softbox Light Tips
That is why I am here to share a tip for replicating softbox light, without that light modifier. In fact, this tip is extremely light, portable, and convenient. It does, though, need a second person to hold the new modifier.
Here’s a list of everything you’ll need:
- Nikon D800 (or camera of your choice)
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (or lens of your choice)
- A backlight
- A flash
- A PocketWizard
- 1 TriGrip reflector from Lastolite
- 1 Justin Spring Clamp from Manfrotto
Let’s dig in, shall we?
The photograph you see here was taken in Dumbo (Brooklyn, New York) where there is a small but beautiful park in between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
As you can see, the Manhattan Bridge is in the background, and the couple is exposed nicely.
The day I took this image I was traveling extremely light, with only one camera body, one lens, a backlight, a flash, a PocketWizard, and a couple pieces of equipment combined together to make a faux-softbox.
The faux-softbox is something I came up with (and will be explained in this tutorial) that allows me to achieve a softbox-like lighting setup simply and easily and away from the studio.
It’s composed of two different pieces of equipment, including a reflector and a spring clamp.
The reflector has to be large enough to cover the couple, but compact and light enough to travel with for the session.
For this job, I use a TriGrip reflector from Lastolite.
I choose this particular brand for two reasons. First, because you can choose from silver, gold and white reflectors.
Secondly, because it has a solid handle that your assistant can use to hold the reflector.
Typically, I’d start with the white reflector and depending on the couple’s skin tones, move to silver, if needed.
However, note that once you switch away from white to silver or gold, the effect is less like a softbox.
The second piece of equipment I use is the Justin Spring Clamp from Manfrotto.
For this situation, I clamp the tool to the grip of the reflector. And with the help of an assistant to hold your light modifier, the setup of your faux-softbox is complete and you have an easy-to-hold mashup of lighting and tools that replicate the look of a softbox.
Then once setup is taken care of, I mount a PocketWizard to the shoe mount and my LumoPro LP180 on top of that.
Be mindful when you get to the point where you’re adjusting your flash, as the flash will have to be set to a higher power than normal because it’s losing light as it fires, bounces off the reflector, and reaches the couple.
However, even with the light loss and power bump, the light is flattering, soft, and even.
Above you’ll see my assistant Gevon holding the faux-softbox for me while my wife assists with makeup.
My final piece of advice would be to make sure that the person holding the setup has a good grip for when the wind picks up.
Reflectors turn into sails when the wind hits it, and the last thing you want is for the setup to go flying somewhere into the abyss.
At the end of the day the couple was happy with their photos, they ordered many prints for themselves, for family and friends.
The last two photographs you viewed here were a taste of the fun we had with the lighting setup, backlights and mixing artificial and natural light with the beauty of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn.
If you have any questions about the lighting setup please do not hesitate to ask.
Thanks for reading and happy shooting!
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